Tag Archives: Committee for Montgomery

First Impressions

Doug Gansler, Wes Moore, Tom Perez and Rushern Baker

The Committee for Montgomery’s annual legislative breakfast at the Bethesda Marriott Conference Center is one of those annual events that brings together the political class of Montgomery County for a good schmooze. This year, CfM also held a forum moderated by Washington Post Reporter Ovetta Wiggins that was open to all gubernatorial candidates. For me, it was either the first time seeing the candidate or the first time in a long while.

Wes Moore is the candidate that stood out as a comer. By far the best speaker in the group, he came across as authentic rather than simply silver tongued. Getting former Del. Aruna Miller to be his running mate adds legislative experience. I still don’t know much about him but he’s one to watch.

After getting shellacked by Anthony Brown in 2014, former Attorney General Doug Gansler is back for another go. He’s running as a practical liberal—moderate by Maryland standards—who has the experience to get things done. The subtext is that he’s also matured and grown since his time out from politics.

Tom Perez would be the first Latino governor but is also running as the insider, establishment candidate who knows just everyone. As well he should. Since he finished his one term on the Montgomery County Council in 2006, he’s served as Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, Secretary of Labor and DNC Chair. That gives him a lot of chits and fundraising ability but also means that he’s little known by voters.

Former Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker, one of the most decent people in Maryland politics, lost the primary for governor in 2018 but left many thinking he would’ve been the better nominee. The forum left me wondering exactly why he wants to be governor. He highlighted his Montgomery running mate, Nancy Navarro.

Ashwani Jain is campaigning as young, smart and passionate progressive, but I just don’t get it. He ran for one of four at-large county council seats in 2018 and came in eighth in the primary. Not a signal to run for governor. Likes to consult his diary.

Former New York Education Commissioner and Secretary of Education John King seems like another smart guy who nobody knows and who failed to stand out, even on education, in a crowd of candidates who are better known and more experienced on the Maryland scene. Left me wondering why he’s running.

Jon Baron struck me as yet another earnest, perfectly likeable candidate with primarily Washington experience who won’t gain traction. This year’s Alec Ross?

Comptroller Peter Franchot is from Montgomery County yet didn’t show. Not especially popular with the political class, he returned the compliment. They aren’t the base of this former hard progressive, now moderate, so I doubt it matters.

Robin Ficker showed up with his hackneyed anti-tax message. He promised to cut the sales tax by 2%, which he oddly labelled a rebate, but per usual didn’t mention one spending item he’d cut. He attacked teachers “Where were they?” for not teaching and went after mask mandates for school kids, though he’s vaccinated.

Neither Del. Dan Cox, (R-QAnon) nor former Del. and Maryland Commerce Secretary Kelly Schulz showed. Perhaps a missed opportunity for Schulz. Though a Democratic heartland, Montgomery still casts a lot of Republican primary votes and she’ll need to make inroads here like Larry Hogan to win in the general.

Libertarian Larry Lashar came across as what Republicans used to be—a bit dull but with a coherent viewpoint and some innovative ideas, like school choice. If the Republicans nominate a wackadoodle, he could get more votes than your usual third-party candidate.

Ovetta Wiggins did an excellent job as moderator by asking straightforward policy-oriented questions and letting the forum be about the candidates.


Committee for Montgomery Breakfast to Feature Candidates for Governor

Following is the press release from Committee for Montgomery.

Politics for Breakfast

Maryland Candidates for Governor to Serve Up Buffet of Answers

Media Contacts:
Adam Pagnucco
Jim Neustadt

Bethesda – November 16, 2017 – It’s time for the Maryland 2018 Governor’s race to start cooking. On December 14th, 2017 the state’s candidates for Governor will dine and then digest many of the controversial issues of the day at the Committee for Montgomery’s (CfM) Annual Legislative Breakfast at the Bethesda North Marriott Conference Center.

Who:  Candidates for Governor
What: One-Hour Panel Discussion
When: December 14, 2017, 7am-10am
Where: Bethesda North Marriott Conference Center, 5701 Marinelli Rd, North Bethesda, MD 20852

Moderator: Josh Kurtz, Founder and Editor of Maryland Matters

Confirmed Participants:

  • Rushern Baker, Prince George’s County Executive
  • Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, Founder, Global Policy Solutions
  • Ben Jealous, Former President/CEO, NAACP
  • Kevin Kamenetz, Baltimore County Executive
  • Rich Madaleno, State Senator, Montgomery County (District 18)
  • Alec Ross, Former Senior Adviser, U.S. State Department
  • Jim Shea, Former Chair, Venable LLP
  • Krishanti Vignarajah, Former Policy Director, First Lady Michelle Obama

Invited Participant:

  • Larry Hogan, Governor

With a board made up of leaders from business, non-profit, labor, education and civic organizations, Committee for Montgomery formed more than twenty five years ago to encourage recognition that all residents of the County share common interests and needs that can be met through sound public policy. CfM works with elected officials at the State level of government to enact those policies. “This forum provides an early look at the candidates as the election is now just seven months away,” says CfM’s Chair, Marilyn Balcombe.  “This is a great opportunity to see all of the candidates in one setting.”

Josh Kurtz, the Founder and Editor of the fast growing political website, Maryland Matters, is the moderator. “The Committee for Montgomery Annual Legislative Breakfast is a powerhouse event, so it’s not surprising that the candidates for Governor want to be there, says Kurtz.  “It’s early in the campaign and they’re refining their messages, so it ought to be illuminating and fun.”

Members of the media are invited. Details regarding credentials, parking, access to candidates and other logistics will be relayed to you in the week prior to the event.


Spare Annapolis D.C. Dysfunction


Today, I am testifying at the House Ways and Mean Committee in favor of a bill sponsored by Chair Sheila Hixson (D-20) and Sen. Jamie Raskin (D-20) to establish a Blue Ribbon Commission on Voting, Openness, Transparency and Equality (VOTE). My opinion piece in today’s Baltimore Sun explains why:

It makes sense to get on the off ramp instead of heading directly into the blockages that plague the federal level. Reforms to the electoral system have the potential to encourage cooperation even as we respect the partisan differences that render our democracy vibrant. Happily, many of these changes can also encourage participation.

Capitol Hill looks like dysfunction junction. Let’s take a look at possible changes that could help prevent Annapolis from following that route.

The Committee for Montgomery, a broad-based alliance of business, labor, education, civic and community-based organizations played a key role in developing the ideas behind this bill.


Hogan to Appear at Committee for Montgomery

The annual Committee for Montgomery Legislative Breakfast will host Governor-Elect Larry Hogan as its keynote speaker. A great chance to chat with local politicos–it’s all about the coffee before the meal–it should be interesting if only for the dynamics, as all of the officials from Montgomery are Democrats.

Here is the notice:

Committee for Montgomery welcomes Governor-Elect Larry Hogan as the keynote speaker at our 25th Annual Legislative Breakfast, which is set for Friday, December 12that 7 a.m. at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel and Conference Center.

This 20+ year old event is widely considered to be Montgomery County’s unofficial kickoff to the upcoming Maryland General Assembly session. Time is running out to become a sponsor and/or register. Sponsorship information is attached.

To register, go to Committee for Montgomery’s website: www.committeeformontgomery.org/events.